Basics for Success on the Pickleball Court


If you are just stepping on to the pickleball court, there are some basics to success that you should know. For instance:

  1. Keep your paddle up when you are on the court;
  2. Be in an athletic stance with your knees bent;
  3. Take short, compact backswings;
  4. Hit the pickleball out in front of your body; and
  5. Exercise patience.

These quick tips will go a long way.

Another basic to success is court positioning. Being in the right place at the right time can win you a lot of points on the pickleball court.

With that said, the general rule of thumb on the pickleball courts is to work your way to the Non-Volley Zone line, or “Kitchen line,” as soon as possible, as most points in pickleball are won there.

But remember, in pickleball, there is a “two-bounce” rule. In other words, the serve must bounce and the return of serve must bounce. After the bounce of the return of serve, you or your opponents may either strike the pickleball in the air (in other words, a volley) or off the bounce.

This is why, when you are the serving team, you should stay back at the baseline to prepare for the return of serve, since you are not allowed to volley a return of serve. By staying back at the baseline, you will give yourself plenty of room for the return of serve to bounce. Then, after the third shot, you and your partner, as the serving team, should immediately work your way in to the Kitchen line.

Depending on your style of play, you can be aggressive and race all the way to the Kitchen line, as soon as you know who is hitting the third shot. Or, you can be more methodical and only move in when you know you hit a good shot.

Either way, be sure to do three things:

  1. Follow the flight of the pickleball in order to cover the most likely shots from your opponents;
  2. Split step before your opponents make contact in order to prepare for your shot; and
  3. Stay linked with your partner (about six to eight feet away) to avoid leaving open holes on the pickleball court.

If you are the returning team, only the player receiving the serve should be behind the baseline. The non-receiving player should already be positioned at the Kitchen line, because the two-bounce rule does not come into play as this non-receiving player will not touch the serve or the return of serve. Once the receiving player strikes the serve, the receiving player should immediately join his or her partner at the Kitchen line.

Remember, most points are won at the Non-Volley Zone line, so it is imperative that you work your way there as soon as possible! And, while it is important to feel comfortable from any place on the pickleball court, you generally want to stay out of the area between the baseline and the Non-Volley Zone line, which known as the transition area, as it is too easy for your opponents to hit aggressive, winning shots.

So, know where to start on the pickleball court, remember to let the serve and return of serve bounce, do your best to get to the Kitchen line and out of the transition area, and then, hold the Kitchen line until you win the point!

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